Holding it at the city's premiere (and newly reopened) gay dance club was, of course, one of those moves that made you slap your forehead and exclaim, “Of course! Why didn't they think of it before?” Better late than never, though. So, for Zaturnnah's sixth (or is it seventh?) run in four years, Tanghalang Pilipino chucked the usual staid restaurant presscon set-up for a thumping, energetic media presentation at the famed Malate nightspot--at high noon.
Some more changes to the cast line-up: Arnold Reyes and Lauren Novero are officially out as Dodong due to schedule conflicts; alternating in the role are Red Anderson and Rocky Salumbides, and, in a couple of performances, GMA-7 Starstruck alumnus Prince Stefan, who said he wants to shed his goody-boy image by trying theater and specifically this rather naughty part.
Joey Paras, slated to reprise Didi, has also begged off, so Gabe Mercado will have a returning Nar Cabico as alternate in the role. The wisecracking Wilma Doesnt is also back as one of the Amazonistas.
The principals--Tuxqs Rutaquio (as Ada), Mercado, Cabico, Anderson and Salumbides, Kalila Aguilos and Pinky Amador as the two Queen Feminas, and Eula Valdes as Zaturnnah--along with the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors' Company, were on hand to render excerpts from the musical (music and lyrics by the redoubtable Vince de Jesus), as well as to submit to questions from the media crowd.
Frankly, I couldn't take some of the nonsensical questions/comments lobbed at them--and the smug, showboating antics of a few among the so-called members of the press--that I hightailed it out of there as soon as I could. We find it easy to heap abuse on show-biz figures for their facile “show-biz” answers; but their interrogators are often, if not more so, guilty of the same shallowness, made worse by their self-aggrandizing high-handedness. Boo.
There, that felt good. Anyway--enough about what I felt. Here, more pictures:
Pinky Amador and Kalila Aguilos singing Queen Femina's showdown song with Zaturnnah. She doesn't sing as often these days, so what a pleasant jolt to hear Pinky's powerful belt, and be reminded that she did cut her teeth in both musicals and straight dramas with Repertory Philippines. She's very excited, she said, not only because she's a babaeng bakla, but also because this is only her second Filipino musical--after Raul Manglapuz's musical parody Yankee Panky many, many moons ago. “Wag na nating ibalik ang nakaraan!”, she quipped.
Gabe Mercado (director Chris Millado called him “the first openly straight guy” to do the role), Tuxqs Rutaquio and the two Dodongs in Siya Lang ang Panaginip Ko, in which each of the characters sing of their dream love. Our first look at Gabe singing the part, and he more than acquits himself. Note Red Anderson and Rocky Salumbides up in the dance cages--brilliant use of Bed's props. It's clear, though, the two hunks still need extensive voice coaching to render their reedy voices ready for opening night.
Finally, Eula Valdes bringing the house down with Victoria! Winner! Tagumpay!, the victory cheer that closes Act 1 of the musical. My earlier take on this number, based on the cast recording: The adventurous music--segueing effortlessly from a slow beat to a frenetic churchy vibe, the lyrics (“Pati ako'y nagulat sa lakas ng lola niyo/ Mayroon pa bang kokontra, sa'kin na ang korona/ Ang tarush! Panalo na ako!”) and the great vocal work by the ensemble make this the perfect carrier single for the musical. That's Nar Cabico supplying the vocal filigree in the choral parts.
“ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal… Vack With A Vengeance!” opens on February 18 and runs until March 13 at CCP Little Theater. Tickets are now available at the CCP Box Office (8323704) and TicketWorld outlets nationwide (8919999). For inquiries, call TANGHALANG PILIPINO (632)8323661 or 8321125 local 1620/1621.